Review: Nintendo DS – Personal Trainer: Cooking

I am a female gamer. I admit that much. And I prefer the “girly” kind of games. Sexist, perhaps, but true none-the-less. I mean the game that is irritating me right now is “Diner Dash: Sizzle & Serve” (I can’t get past the last level on the 4th restaurant), I’m also a HUGE Cooking Mama fan (especially “Cooking Mama 2: Dinner with Friends“). Incidentally I do enjoy games that are NOT cooking or food related (MillionHeir, Mario Brothers, Animal Crossing, CrossworDS, Chessmaster, Brain Age, Guitar Hero, to name just a few).

A recent release has gotten my attention and that of many others – Personal Training: Cooking. And its NOT a game…its a cookbook! I haven’t had the chance to use it much yet, but I have looked through the entire thing to make sure it wasn’t a rip off or worse, a big disappointment.

Now first the graphics. Really good! Ok, so the cartoonish chef is a little hokey. But the video is pretty impressive! The best part are the simple little videos of tasks or techniques that are too hard to describe to someone. The kinda of thing you just need to SHOW. It works beautifully!

There are 245+ recipes from around the world, along with super simple basic recipes (like tomato sauce, pizza dough, etc). And while I haven’t tried any of them yet, they look fantastic! Nice selection from around the world, very representative items and everything is spelled out and easy to see and use. You can browse all of the recipes by country, ingredients, difficulty, cooking time, cooking technique and calorie count. My only complaint here is that you can’t add your own recipes to the database. Kinda worthless then, but I understand why they didn’t include that feature.

On each recipe you also have the option to “favorite” it and to add your own notes to consult later. All recipes are defaulted to a standard 2 person serving, a few exceptions are set at 4, but you can change the amount of servings all the way up to 6 on all recipes.

Finally they also included an “exclusion” list which you can mark with any ingredient used in any recipe, and you can set it to either warn you there is an excluded item in a recipe or to hide recipes with those items entirely. Very handy for those with allergies!

Next up is audio. The chef repeats all instructions aloud while your cooking, and he’s easy to understand, very clear. You can even change the speed of his voice to your preference. And while cooking all you have to do is say “Continue”, “Last Step” or “Repeat” and it will do what you need it to for that section of instruction. And since its all audio based you don’t need to worry about dirty hands touching it or even having to look at it!

Now on to a few of the neat little add-ons. First there are Cooking Terminology guides. All kinds of guides to help you learn what each ingredient is, what you can substitute, and teach you what the different cooking tools and utensils are. When you don’t know what something is its easy to look up, even while in the middle of a recipe, which is perfect for beginners, and not-so-beginners. It goes even further to explain (and show via video) various cooking techniques – grating, peeling, chopping, cutting, blanching, frying, etc. And finally there’s a great little tip guide, all sorts of simple basics that not everyone knows like checking oil temperature, cooking with flour, etc.

There’s also a brilliant shopping list and a calculator. All you have to do is take your DS with you shopping. My only complaint with this is that you can’t add ingredients to the list if it isn’t marked from a recipe. So no matter what you’ll still need a traditional list.

Last but not least it also includes calenders to stamp when you made a particular recipe (no need to remember on your own) and a kitchen timer to prevent over cooking anything, which is used separately as well as in the middle of any recipe if needed.

All and all this is a brilliant and ingenious little “game” – cookbook. I highly recommend you check it out!

Review on IGN
Review on Mommy Googles
Review on GameSpy

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